Saturday, August 29, 2009

Letting out your Inner Nazi

Govt urges Turnbull to reject torture

A political row has erupted after a federal Liberal backbencher said there was a place for torture so long as it was done "in an appropriate way".

Mr Johnson gained some support from former opposition leader Brendan Nelson, who said it depended on how torture was defined.

Nelson is, by the way, described as a moderate and a "nice guy" in the Liberal party. One wonders what the mean people think.

Nazism could be boiled down to about 4 main elements: Dictatorship, militarism, racism and torture (ie, reversing the gains of the Enlightenment and re-introducing torture as a piece of the regular Government machinery.)

If senior members of the 'Liberal' party are prepared volunteer their support of torture, one wonders how many believe in it but are too cautious to publicly say?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Michael Hudson answers questions from Icelanders

Icelandic blog opens comments for questions and answers from Dr Hudson.

I think there are three or four elements which make Dr. Hudson the best commentator on the Global Financial Crisis, and as he has been described on by one reviewer, the best economist in the world right now:

* He was a balance of payments economist for a major Wall St bank. This gives a key insight into how international payments and finance work, particularly from the point of view of the hegemonic power (see his book Super Imperialism).

* A healthy Marxist background, so that he understands that exploitation is inherent in the system, and that the disposal of the economic surplus is the key.

* A classical researcher, with an interest in debt and jubilee. This is a core problem just as relevant today as in the time of Babylon and Sumeria.

* A Georgist input, an appreciation that site rent is by far the greater part of the economic surplus, and that the alternative to taxing the rent is the pledging of it as interest to banks as they go about constructing their global financial ponzi schemes.

This last element is I believe Dr Hudson's secret weapon, which puts the last piece in the puzzle, as there is a total of about 3 of us worldwide who at all take the ideas of Henry George seriously.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paul Kelly on Renewable Energy Targets

RET is the only part of the Government's package worth supporting. Not according to Paul Kelly, spruiking the business line.

We need to build a whole new energy infrastructure, fast, and phase out completely the killer polluting fossil fuel industry.

RET is the one policy proposed or passed by the Government so far which moves towards this end.

In theory, a well designed ETS could be a successful policy but the proposed CPRS is a failure which would achieve little or nothing - this is why it was rejected by the Greens. Looking at the failure of ETS in Europe, one might suspect this was planned from the outset.

If we were seriously interested in 'best policy' we would do as most economists recommend and introduce a carbon tax - with no exemptions for major polluters. It could be at a low rate at first, and raised later.

Geosequestration does not exist nor is likely to exist in time. The only genuine 'geosequestration' is if the coal is left in the ground in the first place. The introduction of a carbon tax would effectively kill talk of geosequestration - King Koal would be on notice that it had to research and deploy the technology or (more likely) shutdown.

Nuclear energy is not just 'at present' financially unviable - it has never been and never will be without massive government subsidy. Solar and windpower are already cheaper with the gap to only increase over time.

Nuclear energy is costly, toxic, weaponable, non renewable and not the answer.

The true problem is not mentioned in this article, but is mentioned at a discussion held by Professor Ross Garnaut in Melbourne, where he added another memorable phrase to what he has already produced:

The trouble with the case for action [on climate change] is this - there is a vast lobbying industry in all developed nations determined to block action, and it’s one-sixth of lobbyists in Washington, according to one estimate.

Garnaut likened this to the vast lobbying efforts to prevent effective rcause great problems to the global financial system while enriching the big US investment housesegulation of the financial derivatives, which were widely expected to and their managers, before ultimately almost causing the meltdown of that same system.

Garnaut's point was that such people could secure a comfortable future for their grandchildren even in a sadly worsened environment.

The bankers of Wall Street were quite willing to enrich themselves while risking catastrophe.

It seems the beneficiaries of current unsustainable environmental practices are taking a similar stance.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Global Warming Denier Sen Steve Fielding Cherry-Picks Scientists


CLIMATE scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US have distanced themselves from the views of a colleague who helped shape Family First senator Steve Fielding's sceptical stance on global warming.

During his trip Senator Fielding heard several speakers question whether human-related emissions were leading to dangerous climate change. It is believed that a talk by MIT atmospheric physicist Dick Lindzen convinced him that the case supporting climate change was being exaggerated.

In June, the Government's former climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, said he had spoken to Professor Lindzen in compiling his review but had discounted his opinion that the global-warming effect of carbon dioxide was overestimated.

''I would have been delighted if there were 10 or 20 or, better still, 100 Richard Lindzens around the world but unfortunately he's a one-off,'' Professor Garnaut said. ''It would be imprudent beyond the normal limits of irrationality to grab one dissenting view among the serious climate scientists and say, 'I am going to believe that' and not to believe the views of all of Australia's credentialled climate scientists.''

Imprudent beyond the normal limits of rationality is a nice way of describing the denialists.

There is a scientific consensus that AGW is real. Denialists like Sen Fielding seem about on a par with people who deny evolution - an anti-scientific position. And of course denialism accords with the interests of the industry that is killing the planet - the fossil fuel industry. Sen Fielding along with Sen Joyce and others among the conservative parties may have dithered a little in the early stages of the debate but they've since got a firm tap on the shoulder from the vested interests - we don't like this and you know what we want you to do.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Terror 'Attack' that Wasnt

Afghanistan cannot be surrendered as a training base of unlimited potential to terrorists as it was prior to 2001

said Prime Minister Rudd. But what if war against and occupation of Middle Eastern countries is the cause of terrorism?

And what if the war in Afghanistan, nearly ten years old already, goes on for decades?

And also, it was the US, not Australia, that was attacked on 9/11. Australia does not want or need to get involved in the imperialist wars of the US or any other country. The proper response to terrorist incidents is police action under international law and redressing the grievances people have, not random war and killing of people and countries that may or mostly may not have had anything whatever to do with it.

This statement of motive for the alleged attack against an army base is plain enough and typical for the jihadis:

One of five men charged with plotting the alleged suicide attack, Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, delivered a defiant outburst when he appeared in a Melbourne court on terrorist charges yesterday.

''You call us terrorists,'' he said. ''I've never killed anyone in my life.''

But he told the Melbourne Magistrates Court the Australian Army ''kills innocent people'' in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During his rant, Fattal, 33, also said Israelis forcibly took land from Palestinians and said he wanted to leave Australia.

So why doesn't Mr Rudd:

1. Withdraw all Australian forces permanently from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East generally.

2. Stop supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and call for boycott, divestment and sanctions if Israel does not withdraw all soldiers and settlers behind the 1967 Green line.

The Australian Government will obviously do no such thing, and the reason is that we are not committed to a 'war on terror', we are committed (virtually as an appendage, not even with the dignity of UK 'spear carrier' status) to the global hegemonic ambitions of the United States. In this sense Rudd is no different from Howard.

In continuing the war effort against Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and condoning the occupation of those countries and of Palestine Rudd is simply creating a motive for vengeance and thus directly exposing Australia and Australians to an unnecessary risk of terrorist attack, small though that may be.